Tag Archives: Relaxation

Delectable deli is number one lunch destination

Salt of the Earth is a vibrant eatery, brimming with character and flavour, and my all-time favourite destination for lunch.

Situated, most unexpectedly, at the end of a row of terraced houses in Carleton (near Poulton), the enticing frontage catches your eye and hints at the delights to be found inside.

Described as a delicatessen, Salt of the Earth offers a whole lot more – extensive breakfast, brunch and lunch menus; takeaway food that can be phoned ahead or delivered; private functions and outside catering; and on Fridays, evening tapas.

It’s an independent, family-run business and it shows; the owners remember all their customers and seem genuinely pleased to see you! Step inside and you’re greeted with a colourful and upbeat venue that is clearly a labour of love.

sunday 010

A collection of mismatched wooden tables and chairs are dotted haphazardly across two dining floors with breakfast bar seating available at the core of activity on the ground floor. Upstairs you’ll find the Dining Hall with whitewashed walls and painted floorboards and the Common Room, furnished with books, board games and armchairs just begging to be curled up in. Chandeliers, fairy lights, mirrors and wall art adorn each room and it all combines to create a charming and welcoming environment to indulge in some leisurely dining. There are also some tables outside for al fresco eating, when weather permits.

The menu is, in my opinion, the most imaginative and varied in the area, with dishes inspired by many different cultures, from the traditional English bacon sandwich to an exotic Spanish salad.

Everything is cooked to order, the bread freshly baked and ingredients locally sourced, and the menu changes to reflect seasonal food. Honest, quality food cooked with passion and flair is guaranteed.

sunday 006
Hot sweet potato, falafel and halloumi sandwich

You’ll find breakfast dishes (served until 11.30am) such as banana split porridge, hot and cold sandwiches, soup of the day, crepes, salads and platters, all with food combinations that will excite you and leave you in turmoil over what to choose!

Take the Middle Eastern platter for instance – lemon and mint infused halloumi, sweet potato falafel, chickpea hummus, dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), guindilla peppers (Spanish chillies), Moroccan couscous and toasted breads. Or the Mexican crepe – refried beans, guacamole, feta cheese and salsa dressed with lime and coriander. The only way to solve such a dilemma is for everyone to order a different dish and share.

Then there are the specials, which are posted on Salt of the Earth’s Facebook page, and frequently cause me to salivate at my desk if I happen to catch the day’s offering while at work. At the time of writing, specials include a Beef and Blue Burger of hot beef, blue cheese, pancetta and crispy onions served on a toasted brioche bun with hand cut chips and a Belgian waffle with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce.

There’s a good range of hot and cold vegetarian options available and something for the traditional as well as the adventurous eater. Desserts are no less impressive; a variety of delicious home baked cakes served in huge wedges, cupcakes and slices. And the drinks menu is extensive, with a beverage for every day of the year – soft drinks such as shandy and ginger beer, fruit smoothies, milkshakes, speciality coffees, teas (served in a pot with china cup and saucer) and hot chocolate.

On my last visit, two of my party chose from the brunch menu (served until 2pm) – an omelette of chorizo, feta and manchego cheese, served with salad for me and an American breakfast of French toast, pancetta and maple syrup for my friend.

My sister opted for a hot sweet potato, falafel and halloumi sandwich, again served with salad, and we shared a portion of sweet potato fries with aioli (a tangy type of mayonnaise flavoured with garlic).

Our food, which was as pleasing to the eye as to the taste buds, was fresh, hot, bursting with flavour and filling, just as I’ve come to expect here. Who made the best selection? A difficult decision but we all agreed that the American breakfast was an inspired and indulgent choice for an early Saturday lunch.

The bill for three meals and four drinks came to £24 – excellent value for money for such wonderful food and friendly service.

sunday 017Salt of the Earth can be found on Poulton Road opposite the Castle Gardens pub and opening times vary, so check first.

If you live locally and have never visited, I urge you to stop what you’re doing and make a booking immediately (you can book but don’t need to). And if you’re further afield, let me assure you, it is well worth making a special journey. Whether you’re catching up with friends, enjoying a family outing, treating yourself or even nursing a hangover, a visit to Salt of the Earth is an absolute joy in every respect.


Meditation for beginners in Blackpool

Anyone who has ever tried meditating after hearing about all the wonderful benefits – increased happiness, reduced stress, peace of mind, improved sleep (the list is endless) – and imagining the zen-like yogi they will become, will know just how difficult it can be to calm your thoughts for more than a few seconds.

I’ve tried numerous times over the years, mainly to help with insomnia, but always gave up after becoming more frustrated by my lack of ability than before I started. I had an epiphany recently though; meditation takes practise. Just as you wouldn’t expect to pick up a violin and play like Vanessa Mae on first attempt, you can’t simply meditate like a Buddhist monk the first time you give it a go. After reading up on the subject, downloading some guided meditations and generally attempting to go it alone, I decided to change tack and go back to basics with a lesson.

005Keajra Meditation Centre on Holmfield Road in Blackpool is a Buddhist Centre that offers Meditation and Mindfulness workshops aimed at beginners. I saw details of a workshop on Facebook and instantly enrolled, and so I found myself knocking on the centre’s front door with trepidation early on a Saturday morning.

I like to think I’m open-minded but I will admit to being a tad nervous about who and what to expect. I was relieved to discover 15 other like-minded ladies ranging in age from twenty to seventy, all in search of inner peace. I was equally relieved that our teacher Kelsang Wangchuk, an English Buddhist monk, was friendly and completely down to earth.

We removed our shoes as is customary but didn’t have to sit cross legged unlike Wangchuk, who sat aloft a throne of cushions as he talked to us about how to bring meditation into our lives.

Wangchuk told his story and talked about Buddha, the creator of Buddhism (and a human being, not a god as you might mistakenly believe) however the focus was not on the religion but entirely on putting meditation into practice and the positive impact it can have in daily life. People from all faiths (or those who don’t subscribe to any faith) are welcome, you don’t have to be a Buddhist. Having said that, in my view, it’s hard to have adverse opinions about a religion that extols love and happiness above all else.

It was a half day session and time flew; we stopped midway for tea (herbal or builders’!), biscuits and a good old chat (Wangchuk included).

006Some points that struck a chord with me and have helped me become more mindful; negative emotions – anger, hate, greed etc – only harm the person feeling them; on the flip side a compassionate approach will enhance your life and the lives of others. And the never ending quest for material things is a sure-fire journey to discontent.

Wangchuk did most of the talking but you could ask questions and he gave two guided meditations which I found very effective, particularly one that involved visualising inhaling love in the form of white light whilst breathing in and breathing out dark smoke to signify negative thoughts. I’ve continued using this at home in my own meditations.

The workshop reinforced all the things I’d read about meditation but put them into real life context for me and the guided meditations were useful as an example of how to focus your practise when alone. Combined with a few ten minute sessions every week, I’m seeing an improvement. It’s a joyous feeling to complete a meditation and realise your mind only wandered a couple of times! I’ve also learned a couple of techniques that help me get back to sleep when I wake up too early.

I think you also have to accept that, as with everything in life, you have good days and bad days, and while I’m a long way from becoming that zen-like yogi, precious moments of clarity and calm are priceless. I took up yoga in the new year, which also requires practise, but I think it goes hand in hand with meditation. They complement each other, meaning progress in both is swifter.

The half day workshop cost £10 which I thought was wonderful value for money and there’s plenty of free street parking nearby. To get the most from embarking on an experience like this, do so without scepticism – you have to believe. If you’re struggling, take confidence from the fact that the positive effects of meditation on physical and mental health are proven by masses of medical research – do your own research if you want to be sure!

Keajra Meditation Centre also runs regular classes, which are suitable for beginners and more experienced meditators, in Blackpool, Poulton and St Anne’s, although I haven’t tried any yet.

I recommend Keajra’s workshop as a great starting place to set you on the right path. Wangchuk is a welcoming and open teacher and I believe everyone will find something in his words that rings true and helps to make meditation work for them.

Find out more on the centre’s Facebook page

Twilight relaxation at Ribby Hall Spa

DSC03514On a chilly February evening, my friend and I, feeling more than a little jaded following the Christmas and New Year come down, headed to Ribby Hall Spa in Wrea Green, near Blackpool in search of restorative relaxation.

We’d been planning it since before Christmas, after hearing lots of good reports and to give us something to look forward to during the bleak first couple of months of the year.

The Spa Hotel stands alone within Ribby Hall Village and offers an impressive range of day spa and overnight packages plus various beauty and relaxation treatments. It’s adult only and welcomes Ribby Hall guests and visitors alike.

We opted for a Twilight Aqua Thermal Journey, available from 6pm-8pm at a cost of £29 each. We arrived early at 5.30pm, were given robes, slippers and towels and shown into clean changing rooms with ample lockers, showers and dressing tables.

The idea is to follow the aqua journey in a special sequence, designed to ensure you get the most from each experience, with two hours being the recommended time to really feel the benefits: aroma room, aroma steam room, saunarium, Balinese salt inhalation room, herbal sauna, pedidarium (reflexology foot baths), outdoor rustic sauna, tepidarium (warm room with heated loungers), ice fountain, plunge bucket and rope shower and monsoon experience showers plus indoor hydrotherapy pool, terrace hot tub and a number of relaxation rooms. This mix of hot and cold experiences promise to detoxify, relax and revitalise. Yes please!

Thursday proved to be a quiet night to visit with only a few other women sharing the journey with us. One of the best things about a trip like this is the forced relaxation – there is nothing to be done but kick back, let go and immerse yourself in the experience. It also provided a welcome and uninterrupted opportunity for a good old fashioned chinwag.


For me, the steam rooms were a dream (I’m not a huge fan of dry heat but have impressive stamina for steam rooms) and the hydrotherapy pool with its overhead water jets provided a robust shoulder massage. We both approached the plunge bucket and rope shower – a suspended bucket of cold water released by pulling a rope – with trepidation and darted away on first contact of cold water on skin, screaming like little girls. But after ten minutes in the complementary sauna, we were racing each other to get underneath the bucket and cool down!

The piece de resistance for me was the outdoor, terrace hot tub. Under the night sky, with ice crunching underfoot we made our way into the heated tub and sat back under the night sky as the stars twinkled in the peace and quiet – bliss. We could have stayed there all night. I would like to return to experience the contrast of a summer’s evening.

By the end of the journey, as we laid back on heated loungers, our conversation dwindled and we both enjoyed a sleepy period of quiet before reluctantly making our way back to the changing rooms to shower and dress.

Finally, we were treated to a glass of bubbly in the bar (included in the package) which provided a tantalising peek into the restaurant, The Brasserie, with delicious smells wafting through. We spent three hours at the spa, and at £29, I felt it was great value for money. And mission was most definitely accomplished; I left feeling relaxed, cleansed and grateful for the time spent with my friend.

There are all sorts of spa packages and treatments you can add, to suit all budgets. And I’ve heard that the food in the restaurant is lovely too.

Heavenly eye treatment at Angel Cottage Beauty Room

I place myself in Sharon Turner’s hands fairly often, usually to have my eyebrows shaped and occasionally for something a little more luxurious and relaxing.


Sharon runs Angel Cottage Beauty Room from her home on Raikes Road in Thornton and it is more inviting (and cleaner) than any salon I’ve ever set foot in. She’s warm and friendly and instantly puts you at ease. You can chat away throughout your treatment but equally, she’ll happily leave you in wordless bliss while you relax. Once you enter the front door of her charming cottage and the fairy-light and candle lit treatment room, any stresses or strains you’re carrying simply melt away. It glows with warmth and cosiness.

On this occasion I tried a Repechage Opti-Firm Eye Contour Treatment, with the promise of reduced dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles, which was on offer for £25 (£5 off the normal price). I went straight after work on a Friday night, when I’m at my most frazzled state of the week, yet I went from 90-0 mph within about 10 seconds of arriving. Prone on the bed and wrapped in warm towels, the treatment started with a cleanse of my face and neck to wipe away the week. This was followed by gentle massage around my eyes to caress away crow’s feet and dark circles. Massage apparently has anti-ageing and rejuvenating effects on the face (yes please), improves circulation and tones facial muscles.

DSC03478A very thick and cooling sugar mask was then painted over my eyes and left to work its magic (or miracle in the case of my insomnia-induced bags), while I received a head massage. Finally, after the mask was removed, serum was applied to my face.

My eyes still betray my sleep deprivation (a good night’s sleep really is the only thing that can rectify this) but were left feeling soothed and fresh after this treatment.

And I’ve found the perfect way to unwind at the end of the week and head into the weekend feeling free and easy – I think any treatment at Angel Cottage would do!

Angel Cottage offers everything from gel nails, eyelash extensions and glitter tattoos to facials, hot stone massage and reflexology. The prices are reasonable, presumably because there aren’t the same overheads as with a salon, but you receive top-notch care and professionalism all the same. Sharon regularly posts offers on her Facebook page so like it and keep your eye out.